Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a system that assesses bodily function. It shows where there is potential dysfunction as a result of mental, chemical, or physical stressors. Muscle testing is the instrument that is used to assess the dysfunction. It should be thought of as a function of the nervous system rather than the power the muscle is capable of producing. AK is another clinical tool in the practitioner’s tool box. When used in conjunction with other forms of evaluating and treatment can result in the resolution/management of the root cause that is leading to bodily dysfunction.
In Applied Kinesiology, something mental, chemical, or physical going on with the body can neurologically make a muscle “weak”. What I mean by a weak muscle is that the neurological pathway from afferent muscle spindle to the cerebral cortex and back down to the efferent neuromuscular junction is disrupted by something mentally, chemically, or physically.
To get a better understanding of how something can make a muscle weak, there needs to be a couple things defined. These include mental, chemical, and physical stressors. Mental stressors are what you can imagine they would be. Anything that is psychological and/or personality related that can result in any sort of dysfunction.
One example for this would be someone who is chronically stressed from their job or family can have knee pain that they feel behind their knee. Reason for that is there is a part of your brain called the basal ganglia, and that is responsible for muscle tone and emotions. If emotions are increased (chronically stressed) that means that part of the brain is more active, which causes tight muscles all over the body. I chose to use the back of the knee as an example, because it’s a muscle people can check easily. If you are taking on your stress physically, the gastrocnemius tendon behind your knee (towards the inside) will tight and painful (basal ganglia controls flexor muscles that propel humans forward because of the fight or flight response).
Chemical stressors are a general term that is supposed to encompass any dysfunction that is going on with a person’s blood, organ/gland, or vitamin/mineral assimilation. They are best dealt with any practitioner that works with functional medicine. Functional medicine is another system to assess what is going on with the systems of someone, rather than the symptoms, and using nutrition to treat the root cause of dysfunction.
One example for a chemical stressor that results in dysfunction is someone that is diabetic. They may have tingling or burning sensations in their feet or hands. These sensations are called diabetic neuropathy, which is the elevated glucose (sugar) in a person’s blood destroying the nerves. The destroying of the nerves is perceived by the brain as a tingling/burning sensation, which is not good. Functional medicine would deal with the elevated blood sugar, which is the root cause of the tingling/burning sensation, rather than give a prescription drug that blocks the brains perception of those sensations.
Physical stressors are anything dealing the neuromusculoskeletal system, and isn’t any sort of internal organ referral pain. Internal organ referral pain is something every doctor needs to consider (like the diabetic neuropathy); however, it is something that is often overlooked. When there is true neuromusculoskeletal pain, the two most common causes are trauma or overuse. Trauma is straight forward, and if you sprain your ankle you will have ankle pain. Overuse injuries are different in that the area that’s painful could be a result of bad biomechanics from another area.
There are a few overuse injuries I see. The one that people just don’t know about deals with carpal tunnel syndrome. There are times where the carpal tunnel might need surgery, however, that isn’t the case the majority of the time. Usually it is overuse of the pronator teres muscle (forearm muscle). This causes the muscle to hypertrophy (increase in size) which then pinches the Median nerve. That pinching of the Median nerve will refer pain down the arm to the carpal tunnel. In order to get rid of that pain, the pronator teres muscle needs to be worked on. As opposed to having surgery at the site of pain, which in this case is the carpal tunnel.
Those were examples of each kind of stressor I see quite often. Again, Applied Kinesiology is all about assessing the neurological integrity of the body and identifying potential mental, chemical, and physical stressors that could cause dysfunction. All information received from AK helps paint the clinical picture of what is going on with a patient.
About Dr. Eric Johnson
Dr. Eric Johnson, Doctor of Chiropractic and Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition as well as owner of Functional Wellness and Chiropractic Center in Madison, WI, is a functional medicine doctor that identifies root causes of pain and/or dysfunction. His systems-based, not symptoms-based, approach is a comprehensive, holistic approach that helps identify mental, chemical, and physical stressors that are underlying numerous health conditions. If you are in the Madison, Middleton, Verona, Waunakee area and looking to not only feel better, but live better, contact Dr. Eric at (608) 203-9272.
Walther DS. Applied Kinesiology Synopsis 2nd Edition. 1988. Triad of Health Publishing. Shawnee Mission, KS.